Wednesday, May 23, 2007
1) The show spoke to a very realistic paradox: Mary still wanted to get married, even though she was happy being single and she knew marriage was not everything. She commented to Rhoda about the plight of the single woman in American society: “Sometimes I think I could discover the secret of immortality and people would still say, ‘look at that single girl discovering the secret of immortality.'” Though she still aspired to a traditional life, she was smart enough to realize how much she was influenced by society's views about women.
2 )Though the audience met Phyllis and her precocious daughter Bess, it did not get to see her husband Lars. It was clear from the first episode that Phyllis' marriage would serve comedic purposes. Phyllis told Mary: “I want to see you married. Because I'm married.” She literally bit her tongue and took Mary's hands in hers. Her voice almost quivering, she continued,
I know how beautiful it can be if you look at it realistically. Face the fact that it means a certain amount of sacrificing, of unselfishness. Denying your own ego. Sublimating. Accommodating. Surrendering.
3) Despite the incredibly hostile treatment she has gotten in the press – because she's four things TV women are not supposed to be, working-class, loudmouthed, overweight, and a feminist – Roseanne became a success because her mission was simple and welcome: to take the schmaltz and hypocrisy out of media images of motherhood. [She] spoke to
millions of women who love their children more than anything in the world but who also find motherhood wearing, boring, and, at times, infuriating.
4) The real “choice” that Roseanne embraced, the one that made her a feminist, was not to work, but rather, the choice to express herself – to her husband and to her children, to her friends and even to her bosses.
5) Roseanne's feminism was for women who have to work because bills must get paid, who assert their role as head of the house despite the degrading work they often do during the day to pay for their kids' food and clothes. Roseanne's feminism challenged what often becomes the pop-culture shorthand for feminism – that the most empowering decision a woman can make is to work (and have or not have a family). “Roseanne” reminded an expansive audience that working-class women are left out of “feminism” when it is framed this way.
6) Her role as a working woman did not make her a feminist. Her role in the home did, however.
7) While “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “Roseanne” emerged at points when “feminism” as a highly prevalent issue, “Sexand the City” came at a time when pop culture was less obsessed with this specific term. Rather, the show's
novel portrayals of women seemed to inspire (rather than reflect) a rebirth of discussion about the meanings of feminism, or at least, how the concept had unfolded in modern life. While woman found more equality in the workplace, the questions that remained were the more traditional ones – those for which feminist theory never satisfactorily answered for everyday women – about when and if one should marry, when and if one should have children. In the 80s, the media used the conflict between traditional yearnings and the advances of the women's movement to set the stage for “post-feminism.” In the post- postfeminist 90s, “Sex and the City” (thankfully) did not shock its viewers with its successful, powerful and self-madewomen. What the show did was push the boundaries of propriety.
8) The first season of “Sex and the City” highlighted the newness of the genre – women speaking candidly about sex. While their lunchtime conversations were certainly unheard of for television, the aspirations (conscious and unconscious) of each of the women to marriage were very familiar. The show constructed four female characters, their obvious differences served as tools with which to examine the issues at hand: again, marriage and relationships, sex and career. Miranda was the cynic, Charlotte the romantic, Samantha the sex-aholic and Carrie, the best friend to them all, the likeable woman who encompassed all of her friends traits. They were all educated, well-employed, “single and fabulous.”
9) In the pilot episode, the protagonist (sex-columnist Carrie Bradshaw) pondered a question that she compared to the riddle of the sphinx (for her crowd): “Why are there so many great unmarried women and no great unmarried men?” Carrie described these women: “We all know them, and we all agree they're great. They travel, they pay taxes. They'll pay $400 on a pair of Manolo Blahnik strappy sandals. And they're alone.” Apparently, these are the qualities of a great woman. “Sex and the City” added a new component to feminism – the ability to out-consume men.
10) In another episode, the four women know a couple that announced their engagement a week after meeting. They are all thoroughly disturbed by this happening, aside from Charlotte who finds the news reassuring. Carrie explored the notion of “love at first sight” for her column, and offered man-on-the-street type snippets as part of her research. One man offered a harsh analysis of why women cannot succumb to instantaneous love: “Love at first sight is too flaky for New York . Here women want to see a blood test and an ATM receipt before they'll talk to you.” This feeling described the new “Sex and the City” bred woman, and the audience sympathized with this man's condemnation of superficial women. The women on “Sex and the City” talked about eligible bachelors as being rich and good-looking, bought $400 shoes because they could, and were highly concerned with getting seated at the best restaurants, rather than discussing political or social issues, lusting after men because they were smart and kind, or even sharing with their friends what they did all day at work.
11) It's very tempting and somewhat accurate to call Carrie and her friends “feminists.” They were in control of their own sexual gratification, and they were also successful career women. Samantha owned her own public relations firm; Miranda was a corporate lawyer; Charlotte an art dealer; and Carrie a writer with a column in a New York newspaper. The
audience believed that these women respected themselves. So much so that when Carrie called Samantha “insecure” in a voice-over, it was not only surprising, but it was unsettling. After all, if it were true about this character, the argument of “Sex and the City” would seem to topple. While insecurity in the boldly sexual Samantha seemed misplaced, it advanced the complexity of Carrie as a feminist character. If Mary Richards' choice was to put marriage aside and go out “on her own,” and Roseanne's choice was to speak her mind, it seemed Carrie's choice was, often, uncertainty.
12) In terms of Carrie and “Sex and the City,” Time once again asked the question “Is feminism dead?” in a 1998
cover story that directly implicated the selfishness of the supposed new ideals of feminism. In a satirical play-on-words, the magazine mocked narcissistic feminism with a headline which re-worked the ubiquitous feminist handbook, Our Bodies, Our Selves . It asked: “Want to know what today's chic young feminist thinkers care about? Their bodies! Themselves!” 36 It noted that while: “the feminism of the ‘60s and ‘70s was steeped in research and obsessed with social change, feminism today is wed to the culture of celebrity and self-obsession.” The materialistic portrayals of “Sex in the City” almost manipulate the feminist roots of self-fulfillment. At the same time, however, they represented a group of women who made good money and had every right to spend it as they pleased. They were women who dominated in formerly male-driven professions
(Miranda became a partner in her corporate law firm) and celebrated their success without apologizing for it.
From: Mary, Roseanne, and Carrie: Television and Fictional Feminism
13) On tv a major question for women is either does Paris Hilton have underwear on or how long is going to serve for DUI? Meredith on Grey's Anatomy is almost useless, despite passing her med school exams. I want to shout at the tv, one word Meredith=feminism! And by the way HBO? I watch Deadwood:)